Stories » At only 23, Seong-Jin Cho's new recording belongs in legendary Debussy company / KCRW: Rhythm Planet

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At only 23, Seong-Jin Cho's new recording belongs in legendary Debussy company / KCRW: Rhythm Planet

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The music of Claude Debussy (1862-1918) was my first major classical discovery, and I've written before about my deep love for his music. Debussy's compositions were revolutionary for his time, representing an original and utterly new style. His music sounded enigmatic and mysterious, and would feature whole-tone runs inspired by Balinese gamelan music he first heard at the 1889 Paris World's Fair. His musical canvases have been compared to the paintings of Monet, Degas and Cézanne; like them, he was called an impressionist. Debussy loved abstraction, often using no particular harmonic tonal center, which gives his piano works an otherworldly feel. On "La Cathédrale Engloutie" (The Sunken Cathedral) for instance, Debussy's pedal work makes the piano sound like it's underwater.

To mark the centennial of Debussy's death, Deutsche Grammphon just released a stunning new recording of his piano works by the young South Korean pianist Seong-Jin Cho. Numerous great pianists such as Walter Gieseking, Claudio Arrau, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, have recorded Debussy. And although he is only 23 years old, I think Cho's new recording belongs in such legendary company. He superbly captures and sings the beauty of Debussy's works throughout the lovely new album.

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